“Dismembering Christmas” DVD/Blu-Ray Artwork Contest

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It’s that time of the year again! Last year we received over 100 submissions for poster art for our first slasher, Don’t Go to the Reunion. Now we want YOU to create the ULTIMATE Dismembering Christmas poster! You have until October 31st to submit your best Dismembering Christmas poster art. Starting November 1st, we will let the fans decide which poster they like best with the contest wrapping on Christmas Day. The winner will get their choice as to be featured on the DVD or Blu-ray cover with the runner-up getting the “other” cover art. Send your submissions to [email protected] Tis the season to be slaughtered!

Like the Facebook page and start let’s start this season of slashing!
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A to Z Horror: “Red Eye” (2005)

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I have seen Red Eye (2005) for the first time (“R” of #AtoZHorror in August/September) and I absolutely loved it! This movie was everything I was hoping it will be, plus more! The acting performances by Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy were really strong and superb. Both showed the abilities they have as actors and as a result both performances are noted in my books as one of my favorites of their careers so far! I also really enjoyed the supporting characters of Brian Cox, Jayma Mays and Kyle Gallner!

The tense direction by Wes Craven was incredibly strong and in general its one of the best movies he has ever directed among the likes of Scream and A Nightmare on Elm Street. The script is simple, yet effective. I feel like, while I was drawn into the story the entire time that they could have some more character develop scenes, but that is just me saying that cause of the surprisingly low running time of 82 minutes. None the less, Red Eye is well acted, strongly directed, really suspenseful and has a lot of unexpected surprises. The movie has interesting characters, that you care about, but they’re also developed so well and filled with both dramatic and comedic layers.

The final act is probably one of the best final acts I’ve seen in a psychological thriller, I also noticed some winks with the way of filming that was also done in Scream. Loved seeing that, what I also thought worked amazing was the perfect score of the legendary Marco Beltrami. This man can never do wrong! All by all, this is one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve ever seen and I highly recommend this movie to everyone, you’re gonna be sitting on the edge of your seat and the movie grips you from start to finish without letting you down.

–Ferdi Akkulak

Killer Sequel: “Dorchester’s Revenge: The Return of Crinoline Head” (2014) Review

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In 1995, a little slasher called Crinoline Head was released and developed a cult following among some slasher fans. It wasn’t until last year that I heard of this slasher. A friend of mine sent me the trailer on Facebook and I instantly HAD to check it out. The movie itself did not disappoint. It was filled with the sort of over-the-top humor and deliciously campy bad acting that the 1980’s were well known for. The film played out like a mix of Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp while using the best parts of both horror franchises. It became THE movie that I had to show all of my friends. They ate it up as well.

Nearly as soon as I watched the original Crinoline Head, I heard word through the grapevine that a sequel was in place. We even chatted with the director (Tommy Faircloth) and lead actor (Jason Vail) on an episode of Slasher Studios Horror Podcast. The sequel was going to be bigger and better than anything in the original film and I couldn’t wait to devour every bite. After having been contacted by the director on Facebook with the chance to watch an online screener, I instantly jumped at the opportunity. Does the film live up to my lofty expectations or does is Crinoline Head one horror villain that should have stayed in the 1990’s?

In the first film, a group of vacationing college students rent out a cabin on the lake where they find some mysterious dolls and learn the legend of Crinoline Head. It should come as no surprise to horror fans that they were killed off one-by-one until there were only two remaining. The sequel takes place 18 years later as we follow one of the survivors of the first film, Paul (played by Jason Vail in a nicely nuanced performance) who is now a professor at a local community college. When a few of his students decide to do a report on the local legend of Crinoline Head and the untold story of Dorchester Stewart, he tries to let go of the past but…can the past let go of him?

Among the students along for the ride we have the typical group of slasher meat: the jocks, the slutty girl, the good girl, etc. But, believe me, it’s all part of the fun. What follows is a glossy slasher that almost works better as a stand alone than it does as a sequel to the original Crinoline Head. Whereas the original had some great homage moments (the Sleepaway Camp 2 death comes to mind), the sequel takes another approach and handles the material extremely seriously. Turns out, that’s exactly what it needed. That’s not to say there isn’t a fair amount of comedy. In fact, the always awesome Debbie Rochon plays a country bumpkin that comes across as the daughter that Ethel (Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning) never had. She’s uproarious in her brief screen time and proves that you don’t have to have a large role to make a big impact on a slasher fan.

As the friends start to pile up, the mystery starts to take hold and….well, you’ll just have to see for yourself. Bravo to Mr. Faircloth for creating a thoroughly entertaining and extremely polished slasher sequel that features some great deaths, a fantastic little Carrie homage, and some likable (as well as “love to unlike”) characters in a tight 95 minute running time. Keep an eye out on this one. Don’t be surprised if this ends up being one of the best indie slashers of the year.

A to Z Horror: “Psycho” (1960)

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I have finally watched Psycho (1960) for the very first time (“P” of #AtoZHorror in August/September) and while I despised the 1998 remake by Gus Van Sant, I instantly loved the original classic from Alfred Hitchcock! The direction, the cinematography, the great use of black and white, the phenomenal acting performances and not to mention, the infamous shower scene. Whatever I hated of the shot-for-shot remake, I LOVED in the groundbreaking original. The characters are very well flashed out, which was very interesting to see. It was clear that this movie took its time to build up the story and characters.

It is not a particularly scary movie but it had some intense and frightening shots that score high on the creepy factor! The acting performances of Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh and Vera Miles were superb! The script was really interesting and I love how it was presented to us as a murder mystery instead of a straight forward horror story. One disadvantage going for this original is that the remake pretty much ruined the originality and freshness of the original, cause its a WAY WAY better movie, some elements were just not working for me after having seen the remake first.

With having that said, Psycho is still a groundbreaking classic with one of the best scores I’ve ever heard in a horror movie, the final twist still got me even tho I already could guess. Its a perfect example of how a mystery/thriller should be made without loose ends or cliches. Highly recommend it to everyone!

–Ferdi Akkulak

The Pitchfork of Death: The Prowler (1981)

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When you ask anybody who’s a fan of the slasher genre you’re bound to hear the films that define the genre. Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and so on and so forth. Then you’ll get the fan whose exhausted the well of the more prominently known films and has journeyed into the basement, with them able to sound off some of the lesser known slashers such as My Bloody Valentine, Prom Night, April Fool’s Day, New Year’s Evil, Black Christmas, Silent Night Deadly Night, and a couple others. However even then there are still more slasher films that await the cult like fanbase of this subgenre. These are the films that you have to do a little digging to uncover. The films that were left in the darkness because they were either so bad that people wanted to forget them or films that are good but simply got lost as the genre moved along. 1981’s The Prowler (A.K.A. Rosemary’s Killer) falls into the latter category.

Directed by Joseph Zito (who would later go on to direct what many slasher fans consider a perfect film of the genre in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) The Prowler is a film which seems to have been lost to time. Only hardcore fans of the genre really know of the film and while it’s easier to learn of now thanks to the internet and books about slasher movies in general, it’s still one that seems to be overlooked a bit. I find this rather sad considering it’s one of the best in the art form. It’s not necessarily underrated; it’s just one that doesn’t come up in conversation a lot. It has a reputation going for it which is mostly in due to the special effects work, but it’s a film which houses many a great thing other then the succulent red stuff. So I say let’s give The Prowler some more love and take a look at this cult classic within a genre of many other cult classics.

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It’s 1945 and World War II has just ended, the tyranny of the Nazi’s and the relentless force of the Japanese has been defeated and has finally brought the boys back home to us. Not only are these men welcomed back by their families and friends but they’re welcomed very warmly by their gals, ready to reunite after many years separated. Some men aren’t so lucky though and return after receiving a Dear John Letter, which is the 1945 equivalent of being dumped over a text message. One of these soldiers takes this very badly and coupled with all of the stress and trauma of fighting in one of the most intense wars ever decides to kill the woman who left him. He does so at Avalon Bay’s graduation party, he killing his former beloved Rosemary and her new lover as they’re making out, he leaving behind a rose and an event which leaves the town in shock.

Thirty five years later in 1980 the class of the unnamed school in Avalon Bay have decided to bring back the graduation dance, the first since that horrific event. As the class prepares for the event (headed by Pam MacDonald who is played by Vicky Dawson) and Deputy Mark London (played by Christopher Goutman) prepares to watch over the town as his Sherriff goes off for a fishing trip, it seems as if somebody has never forgotten about those events so long ago. With the graduation dance going on students begin to be murdered by a man dressed in a military uniform. Just who is this mysterious man? Is it an escaped criminal Mark and his Sherriff heard about earlier? Is it the father of the slain Rosemary? Or is it somebody else who wants to make sure that no dance ever happens again? Whoever it is it’s now up to Mark and Pam to figure out who the killer is and stop him before more bodies pile up.

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When you begin to dissect The Prowler you may simply write it off as another standard film from the slasher cycle. After all, its storyline is no more different than that of another 1981 film in the form of My Bloody Valentine. Even looking past that its story is still so similar to many others with the whole “Tragic event caused something to be banned. People bring it back years later and said people start to drop like flies.” While the acting is quite good it isn’t the best, once again the characters are likeable but we’ve seen them before. To be perfectly frank the story is a little off too with how it starts and ends. The beginning shows an old newsreel, which to me isn’t really needed since the film informs the viewer of what year it is as the dance begins and thus could’ve just started with the reading of Rosemary’s letter. As for the ending, I won’t say exactly what happens but I will say that the way things flow seem really abrupt. So that begs the question “Why is this filmed as beloved and hailed as it is?” The answer is quite simple my friends and can be answered with two words: atmosphere and brutality.

Atmosphere in a horror film is very important as it sets the mood for the film and along with the music can help bring about the suspense. In the subject of atmosphere The Prowler is a prime example of hitting it out of the park. Avalon Bay in light comes off as a cozy little small town, but come nightfall it becomes a realm haunted by evil, gloom, and darkness, something which the cinematography presents so well. The scenes at night have this darkish blue tint that gives the film an almost foggy look to it. Coupled with excellent lighting this helps set the mood of a town possessed by such a terrible force, it contrasted by the light lined dorm houses and the bright cheery interior where the dance is happening. This accompanied with a haunting score by Richard Enhorn makes the viewer slowly seep into this world where bad things can and do happen. With these two factors running smoothly and with pacing that while a little slow by the end helps build the tension and suspense. When our heroes are walking around in a house or in the cemetery you hold your breath, hoping that they won’t come in contact with the killer and meet a grisly end. And when a character is so unfortunate to run into the madman your heart races as they try to escape, both you and the character knowing it’s all in vein. In terms of atmosphere The Prowler is a home run, and its excellent atmosphere leads to building great tension.

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Speaking of the killer, Mr. Prowly himself is a force to be reckoned with (but we’ll get to that in a few minutes). Although the atmosphere and mood help build the tension perfectly on their own, the killer adds to the fear so very well. Decked out in his old military uniform and wearing what I assume is some sort of combat mask (I’ve never really seen one like it before or after seeing the movie) his appearance will send shiver down your spines. Like his other dance hating counterpart in My Bloody Valentine’s Harry Warden, The Prowler’s look is able to be fearful by taking an attire that is common to many and twist it into an image of terror. Masks hide many killers’ faces and usually have some form of expression on them; however the one here is just blank green fabric. No eyeholes, nothing resembling a facial feature, nothing. The Prowler’s look is terrifying simply because there’s nothing that you can face off against. It shields him from his victim’s and allows them (and the audience) to project their own image onto. It’s truly terrifying and is the stuff of nightmares (I’m still waiting for my Prowler action figure).

However as I mentioned earlier atmosphere isn’t the only reason this film is so highly regarded. Perhaps the main reason it is held so highly is because of how brutal the film is. Brutality is nothing new in a slasher film; the common fan of the genre has probably seen many grisly ways to dispose of a person. However the kills in The Prowler come as off brutal simply for the added details in how they’re performed. To give only one example of how brutal our man can be, as a woman is getting out of a pool he delivers a kick to her chin that sends her flailing back into the water, he appear in the pool moments later and ending her short life. The kick to the woman’s chin is what elevates this kill to being so brutal and mean spirited. The fact that the killer actually traps his kill not only in a pool, but even disorients the victim is so savage and animalistic. It’s actually what a psychotic killer (and in this case soldier) would do and makes the kill and some of the others all the more frightening and horrific.. I could go on about how the killings are brutal but I don’t want to spoil them for those who haven’t seen the film. But trust me when I say that they will leave an impact on you, something which nobody should be surprised at considering the master of gore Tom Savini handled the effects for the film.

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When it comes down to the end The Prowler is a great film. The film definitely has it’s flaws, most of them in the slower pacing by the end and in my opinion how the film begins and the way it ends. Outside of those few things though, I have nothing but praise for the film. Its story isn’t anything that reinvented the cycle or that revolutionary. But coupled with a bleak and dark atmosphere and some of the most brutal kills you may ever see in a slasher film, everything balances out in the end, and the scale is most definitely heavier on the pros side.

I can’t say anything else other than that The Prowler is phenomenal film that has been overlooked and doesn’t deserve that treatment. It isn’t perfect but it ranks high up in my humble opinion. It shows the great things which would soon come from Joseph Zito, showcases Savini at his finest, and is able to send a chill down many a viewer’s spine. It’s highly recommended in my book and is a must see for all fans of our beloved slasher genre.

–Morgan Moore

- Morgan Moore is an online writer and aspiring filmmaker. He’s the creator and main contributor to the blog Unbalanced Ramblings. He considers John Carpenter’s Halloween to be his favorite horror film of all time.

A to Z Horror: “The Others” (2001)

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I have seen The Others (“O” of #AtoZHorror in August) and to be honest with you, I was expecting a whole different film by the look of it. I liked the story, the performances, the costumes and the location and house it was shot. The movie was in most parts a slow burn, I can forgive that, it obviously needed some time to set up the story and characters.

What I didn’t quite understand is why at some scenes this movie took so long… Especially in the middle part, I mean if they had made it more suspenseful or remotely boring it would have been a great way of using screen time. Instead, there is more talking and less frights. Nicole Kidman pulled off a superb performance in The Others, and actually all the actors did their job great. The direction and cinematography was also very rich and well taken care of. I also liked the score, it was interesting to hear. This movie had a few suspenseful bits that were well crafted, I wasn’t scared in my pants or anything but I liked this sudden atmosphere it had going on. There was this sudden twist ending that I wouldn’t have seen coming from miles away.

Did I like it? Not sure… It became too much for me, it was sure unexpected but they could’ve done a bit more to make it a bit more scary rather than leave it as it is. I mean the entire build up for this pay off? It deserved better… Still its a well made movie that you should watch at least once. Its really well acted, has an interesting story and is very richly detailed, wish I liked it more than I did.

–Ferdi Akkulak

Slasher Studios Horror Podcast: Return to Final Destination

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On a brand new episode of Slasher Studios Horror Podcast, our hosts Andrew Beirl and Kevin Sommerfield will be taking a look at parts 4 and 5 of the Final Destination and discuss where they think the series should go from here. The fun begins at 10PM central so don’t miss your Final Destination…

To listen in live or to check out an archive:
Slasher Studios Horror Podcast: Return to Final Destination

Razor Blades, Books, and Insanity: “Tenebrae” (1982)

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To fans of Italian horror cinema no name shines brighter then Dario Argento. Born in 1940 to a film producer and photographer, Argento has gone on to have a prolific career in the world of Italian cinema, specifically in the horror subgenre of giallo. His work has gained worldwide recognition and praise and he has come to have a devoted cult audience that love his films for their stylish appearance and the grisly and gory nature of the violence showcased in his films. Argento is best known for the films Deep Red (1975), Suspiria (1977), and Inferno (180), however to his many fans these are only three of his works in a library of films that for the most part are considered to be some of the best horror films to be made. One of those films is the subject of this review.

After the success of his foray into the supernatural with 1977’s Suspiria and 1980’s Inferno Argento decided to return to the giallo style of film which he was mostly known for, a genre he helped popularize along with other directors such as Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci, and Sergio Martino. The film which Argento would make and return to giallo with was 1982’s Tenebrae (A.K.A. Tenebre A.K.A. Unsane), a film which Argento claims he got the idea from after having a disturbing incident with a fan who would constantly call him and eventually stating that he wanted to kill the director. Regardless if this how the director came up with the idea for the film, Argento crafted another film which is hailed as being one of his best works. So how does the film fair? Let us journey into the darkness and find out for ourselves.

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Tenebrae tells the story of Peter Neal (played by Antonio Franciosa), a mystery writer who travels to Rome to promote his new book titled Tenebrae. Upon arriving in Rome he meets up with his agent Bulmer (played by John Saxon), his friend Anne (played by Daria Nicolodi), and his assistant Gianni (played by Christian Borromeo). However he is not only greeted by his friend and co-worker but by Detective Giermani (played by Giuliano Gemma) who informs Peter that a young lady has been murdered with pages of Tenebrae stuffed in her mouth. At the same time Peter also receives a letter from the kill himself who states that Peter’s works have inspired him to begin murdering people and that Peter is on his list.

With the detective doing all that he can to solve the growing number of murders, Peter joins in on the investigation to help as much as he can. Will the detective and author be able to catch the killer before Peter himself is killed? What do these visions the killer is having mean? And just who is this woman following Peter?

Released in what many fans will call Argento’s best period of filmmaking Tenebrae differently shows the director at his best in a showcase which shows off all that he is known for in the best possible ways. It houses his typical extravagant violence, beautiful cinematography, a catchy soundtrack, and many other variables such as a twisty turning story and his then lover Daria Nicolodi. But are these factors as good as his fans make them out to be?

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The acting in the film is very nice which helps give the characters a personality and life which helps giving the movie some depth. Franciosa does a very good job at showing Peter as an author who is struggling with the case at hand but is still able to put up a good front, seemingly not showing off being bothered that murders are being committed in his known (except for one line in which he states that “I wish I would have burned that book”). Nicolodi turns in a good performance as well with Anne coming off as genuinely warm and caring about Peter’s situation as well as highlighting their friendship. The rest of the cast themselves do a good job too, Gemma does a great job at playing the serious but slightly fanboyish/gleeful Detective Giermani, Saxon performs great as always, and the victims range from being very nice and inviting (Gianni and Maria) to a little on the irritating side. The characters themselves develop quite well to where they become easy to like and be cared for when one of them dies. Their relationships with each other are made clear and while not all of them are fully fleshed out (Gianni Maria seem to be friends but they share only one scene together) their motives and personalities are easy to spot and thus make them important to the plot…save maybe for Maria who is just kind of there and doesn’t seem to have any real relationship to the main cast.

Tenebrae’s story is provides a good mystery and is easy to follow. The murder’s reasoning for committing these crimes is made loud and clear; he’s been inspired by Peter’s works and with another motive which I won’t reveal for spoilers sake gives him another reason to do this as well. In fact the story is probably one of Argento’s most grounded and non confusing ones compared to some of his other works. However the story does become a bit off come the half way point and by the end it is unfortunately confusing. They state a reason to help relieve the audience of any possible confusion but personally I still find it to be a little out there and kind of kills the flow the film had going. But that’s only my personal gripe with the story and thus not everybody may feel as I do. Overall though, the story is definitely one of the most intriguing in the giallo subgenre and while the ending can be iffy depending on how you ask, the end product is one of Argento’s most grounded and best.

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The actual technical side of the picture is very nice as well. Argento is known for his beautiful and complex cinematography and it’s in full force here. One of the film’s standout moments comes in a scene in which the camera tracks up and down the outside of a house for several minutes which is one of the director’s best scenes and some of the best camerawork I’ve ever seen. Surprisingly while tenebrae means “darkness” or “shadows” in Latin/Italian the film is quite bright and there’s very little darkness to it. Even when a scene takes place at night it seems to have this illuminating look to it making it easy to see everything evolving within the scene. The music for the film which is done by long time Argento collaborators Goblin is as great as always, the Tenebrae theme itself being really catchy and is something one might hear at a disco r dance club. Like many of the films Goblin have composed music for, the soundtrack is almost like a character upon itself. And of course how could one forget the violence of the film? In typical Argento fashion the deaths are gratuitous and over the top, a spectacle for those who relish in seeing people being cut, hacked, stabbed, and just all around decimated. The film’s violence got it into a little trouble with the censors, it becoming a Video Nasty in the UK and having ten minutes of footage (including all of the violence) cut in the US release. However since the film’s initial release, Tenebrae has been released uncut in both the UK and in the US, something which helped change a few critic’s opinion on the overall film itself.

Along with providing a great mystery, kills, soundtrack, and all around Argento goodness many people have found that the film includes many themes. In fact in a Fangoria interview Argento went into great depth about the themes of the film. I won’t go into deep about the themes of the film, but many people have noted the film to feature themes of aberrant sexuality, the impairment of vision, and even that of dark doubles. So for those who like to talk about themes in film and have a nice good deep conversation about it, Tenebrae gives you quite a bit to work with in that department.

At the end of the day Tenebrae is a great film which effective combines the horror, mystery, and thriller genres into one big melting pot of greatness. The story may divide some people on it’s ending but the acting, cinematography, music, and violence is sure to appease fans of the Italian maestro. Is it one of Dario’s greatest works? Yes. Is his best? That’s debatable. But in the end Tenebrae is a film that I highly recommend to fans of Argento, giallo films, Italian films, and horror in general.

–Morgan Moore

Morgan Moore is an online writer and aspiring filmmaker. He’s the creator and main contributor to the blog Unbalance Ramblings. He considers John Carpenter’s Halloween to be his favorite horror film of all time.